Posted 07 March 2019

Instructor Tip: Respect in Martial Arts

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Mrs Sarah and Mr Hakan discuss Respect. Its meaning, how we demonstrate respect at the Australian Martial Arts Academy and how we can apply these principles to our day to day lives.

Hakan: Hi, I’m Hakan.

Sarah: And I’m Sarah.

Hakan: And we’re both head instructors and managers here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy. Today we’re excited to chat to you all about a key component within martial arts training. And that is respect. So Ms. Sarah, what is respect?

Sarah: Respect is a really important thing and it pretty much just means that you value the time, beliefs and opinions of other people. And I guess these days we’re so time-poor that we sometimes forget to think about ways that we can show respect or demonstrate respect in our everyday lives.

Hakan: Definitely. I mean, what I really love about respect the most is it takes the attention off ourselves onto others. And I think that the way society’s set up these days, is we’re so hungry and determined to pursue our own career paths and chase our goals, which is perfectly fine; but sometimes it could be at the expense of others. So applying respect and some of its practices into our lives will help us appreciate our blessings and value others’ opinions and their point of view as well.

Sarah: So true.

Hakan: So how do we apply respect here at the academy?

Sarah: There’s a number of ways that we really practice respect and from the very get-go, what we do is we teach people to walk in and be thankful that they actually have an academy to come in and practice at. And to stop and take the time to recognize that they’re about to do something in their life that’s meaningful and powerful. And so as soon as they walk in the doors, they bow. And this is a really important way to show respect or to think about respect. And so they bow when they enter the door and before they come on the training mats, they’re also going to bow as they enter the mat. And so I think that’s a really great way for them to recognize that what they’re doing is meaningful. And that there’s other people around there who are there to train hard and to think about all these and to leave their problems at the door.

Hakan: Yeah, fantastic. I mean, the act of bowing itself symbolizing the traditions and honouring the past of the martial arts, be it taekwondo or karate, or whatever style you practice, we need to acknowledge the fact that it’s been passed down for centuries and it’s got so much history behind it. Now, in class when we’re training, we acknowledge our partner, we bow towards them, we give them a high five. How about to instructors? What do we ask students to do to our instructors?

Sarah: Well, between instructors what’s really important is that mutual respect. What we see is the instructors acknowledge the students and the students acknowledge their instructors. And so this is as easy as saying hello to someone and it’s something so simple but it’s the small things in life that we sometimes forget to do that make your life that much happier. And it’s great seeing someone come in who isn’t very happy, being greeted by the instructor and changing their whole outlook and smiling and leaving the academy feeling great; and vice versa. The students can also do the same thing to the instructors. Just by saying hello, bowing to the instructors and calling them by their appropriate names. So for example, if they’re addressing the Master, I’ll show respect to him by bowing and saying hello to the Master. If they’re talking to an instructor, they’ll say hello Mr. Hakan or Ms. Sarah and that way they acknowledge that they are important, they have a role as an instructor in society.

Hakan: You know, I really love the respect because of a number of other reasons as well. First, for example, we need to respect our competitors. If we are competing, we need to understand that that person is there to help us become our better selves and that’s why we got training partners here at the centre as well. So we sometimes, I think, that element of sportsmanship gets forgotten; or we come in to the dojo and we’re all wearing our martial arts uniform, that gets rid of all sense of hierarchy, I guess, or any sort or meritocracy because we’re all on that level playing field. So regardless what religion or race or wealth, we all come together, we respect each other, we train together, we improve and we reach our goals collectively. So I think that level of respect is really fundamental both within martial arts training and applying it to our day-to-day lives. So it’s a great segue to get into that, Ms. Sarah. How can we take the martial arts principles here in training and then apply it in their lives?

Sarah: What I love about coming to martial arts is that it reminds me to think about what you do outside of the academy, and in particular with that of showing respect. What we want to do is we want to make sure we walk the talk and demonstrate in our everyday lives what we practice at the academy. So that little things like saying hello to someone as you enter a shop –

Hakan: Eye contact.

Sarah: Yeah, eye contact is important. We expect these things in many of our children yet we don’t follow through with them in ourselves. And so I think it can be really great just to make sure that we take the time to acknowledge that that person is there. Whether they’re paid to be there, whether they’re supposed to be there or not is beside the point that that person is valued. And the way that we do that is just by saying a simple hello and a smile. I love the masters’ approach to respect and his favourite way to demonstrate respect outside the academy is to make everyone smile. And often in our team meetings, his message to us would be make sure you make someone’s day today.

Hakan: Yeah.

Sarah: And he tries to do that every day. I think that’s such a fantastic example which reinforces that even the most senior person takes the most time and care to think about how they can help others.

Hakan: Yeah, a smile can definitely go a long way. Even on the phone, sometimes you know when we’re catching up, you can really sense when someone’s smiling on the other side even though that you can’t physically see them. Now, moving on to that, one thing we also need to think about is respect to ourselves. I mean, keeping fit with martial arts training or any other type of exercise, eating right, getting the correct sleep is very important elements. I guess we need to respect ourselves in order to be able to respect our community and our society.

Sarah: That’s exactly right, Hakan. I’m really passionate about encouraging other people to take care of their body. No one else is going to take care of your body, it’s you who needs to do that. And so the best way to really encourage yourself or show respect to yourself is to recognize it’s important to make time to think about what am I actually eating, how often am I attending my training sessions or martial arts sessions to make sure that I’m physically and mentally in the right place right now. And that kind of respect teaches you that you’re worthwhile. So if you want to build confidence, it comes from the core of taking care of your own body.

Hakan: Absolutely. So we hope that video has clarified the definition of respect, how we apply it here and how you can use the same principles in your day-to-day life.

Sarah: Let’s see if you can go out and make someone else’s day a little bit better. And we’d like to encourage the respect spirit worldwide.

Hakan: Thank you.

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